Human Papillomavirus (HPV): How It Affects Sex

July 26, 2019
Despite being very common, Humanpapilloma virus (HPV) may lead to stress and distrust within a couple. That's why knowing more about this condition will allow you to have an open and confident conversation with your significant other.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a sexually transmitted disease. It’s harmless for the most part, but it can sometimes lead to problems in a relationship. It’s for this reason that its emotional impact can be even more severe than the virus itself.

HPV is perhaps the most widespread sexually transmitted disease. People may contract it through conventional sexual intercourse and via oral and anal sex.

Women tend to be the most affected by human papillomavirus. However, men are also carriers, but there’s less chance that they are aware of it. 50% of men have the virus without being aware that they are transmitters, according to figures from the United States Disease Control Center.

The Risks of Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Most strains of HPV are symptomless and disappear on their own. They seldom cause any serious health problems. However, 14 of the more than 100 types of HPV do cause cancer.

A folder with a diagnosis of Human Papillomavirus or HPV.
HPV is a very common virus among humans and doesn’t have adverse physical symptoms in most cases.

There are two types of Human Papillomavirus or HPV that cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. They also lead to cervical precancerous lesions, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Even though cervical cancer is the most common complication of HPV, this virus also causes other types of cancer. This may include cancer in genital areas like the anus and the mouth or throat if these come into sexual contact with infected genitals.

In fact, there has been an increase in mouth and throat cancer in the male population that is related to HPV. There’s also a risk of developing penile or anal cancer in men. However, this is rare and is usually related to immune system deficiencies.

Low-risk HPV infections can cause genital warts, both in women and men. Usually, warts don’t cause pain or constitute a serious problem.

Read: Seven Uncommon Questions to Ask Your Gynecologist

How to Deal with Human Papillomavirus in Your Relationship

HPV could be present in any sexually active person. Even if they don’t present symptoms, it’s a good idea to have periodic check-ups that include cytological analysis.

If a person has the virus, then it’s likely that their partner also has it. If you’re in this situation, then you should have a sincere conversation with your partner or partners.

A man and a woman talking over coffee.
Try to have an honest conversation with your significant other so you can both distinguish fact from fiction regarding HPV.

You’ll need good information on this condition to be able to discuss it with your partner. You’re about to tell them that you have a sexually transmitted disease. That they may also have it. Naturally, they may distrust, suspect, or even resent you.

Keep in mind that knowledge is power. So, one of the best ways to address the issue is to offer information that can help them understand. This includes not only the causes of the infection but its consequences as well.

It may also be that a person with HPV feels stigmatized, anxious, and stressed. However, remember how common and easy to contract it is. Remember that it doesn’t cause major problems in most cases. This will help you both come to terms with it.

As the Sexual Health Association of the United States reminds, don’t feel guilty. Talk to your partner confidently and don’t feel like you’re confessing to a mistake.

What Should You Tell Your Partner

If you recently discovered that you have contracted HPV, mention the following when talking to your partner:

  • 80% of unvaccinated adults get HPV at some time.
  • In most cases, no symptoms manifest immediately.
  • Most strains don’t pose any risk.
  • There’s no way to know if you contracted the virus recently or a long time ago.
  • If you often have sexual intercourse with your partner, you both likely have the virus.
  • There’s no treatment for HPV. However, the body’s immune system eliminates it over time.
  • HPV may take months or years to disappear.

Read also: Eleven Sexually Transmitted Diseases You Need to Know About

Can You Still Have Sex if You Have HPV?

A couple in bed, the man is opening a condom.
Having sex with adequate protection will always be the most appropriate prevention measure.

As is the case when you have any sexually transmitted disease, it’s best to avoid sex until the virus is under control.

If your doctor confirms that the virus strain is not aggressive, then you can have sex with protection so as not to infect your partner.

In any case, consult a doctor and follow their advice. Know that each case is different depending on the type of strain and the infected area within ​​the body.

If you’re going to have sex with a new partner, it’s best to tell them about it. Likewise, always use a condom to protect yourself and avoid unprotected oral sex.

Prevention

Human papillomavirus is very common. Therefore, knowing its risks and taking action can help reduce your chances of infection.

Some measures you can take are:

  • Vaccines help protect men and women. Doctors administer them in 3 doses within 6 months. The United States Center for Disease Control recommends vaccination starting at age 11.
  • Use of condoms and oral latex protections.
  • Avoid having unprotected sex.
  • Maintain good genital hygiene.
  • Social and psychological impact of HPV testing in cervical screening: a qualitative study
    K McCaffery, J Waller, J Nazroo, and J Wardle. School of Public Health, Edward Ford Building (A27), University of Sydney, Australia. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, London, England.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/hpv/en/
  • Sixteen, Going on HPV 16
  • HPV, oral sex, oral cancer, anal cancer, other cancer, fingers, sex toys. Mark Borigini M.D.Pscology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-pain/201711/sixteen-going-hpv-16
  • Psychological Impact of Primary Screening (PIPS) for HPV: a protocol for a cross-sectional evaluation within the NHS cervical screening programme. Emily McBride, Laura Marlow, Alice S Forster, Sue Moss, Jonathan Myles, Henry Kitchener, Julietta Patnick, Jo Waller. Epidemiology and Public Health, Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London, London, UK, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/12/e014356
  • Virus del papiloma humano genital. La realidad. Centro de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades. https://npin.cdc.gov/stdawareness/the-facts/spanish/04_genital_hpv_sp.pdf